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Leaving a Job

By Alden Su, Licensed Taiwan Labor Attorney

We have looked at what to do if an employer has taken your wages. Today we will focus on the steps you can take to maximize your rights when you want to quit a job.

Can I Quit Without Giving Notice?

Teachers are bound by the Labor Standards act regarding what their responsibilities are to employers. You must follow the provisions outlined in Article 15, with specific attention to paragraph 2:

In the case of a special fixed-term contract for a term of more than three years, a worker may, after expiration of three years, terminate the contract by giving notice to his employer thirty days in advance.

In the case of a worker terminating a non-fixed term contract, the provisions of Paragraph one of Article 16 pertaining to the prescribed time limit for serving advance notice shall apply mutatis.

Article 16 states:

  1. Where a worker has continuously worked for more than three months but less than one year, the notice shall be given 10 days in advance.
  2. Where a worker has continuously worked for more than one year but less than three years, the notice shall be given 20 days in advance.
  3. Where a worker has continuously worked for more than three years, the notice shall be given 30 days in advance.

After receiving the advance notice referred to in the preceding paragraph, a worker may, during hours of work, ask for leave of absence for the purpose of finding a new job. Such leave of absence may not exceed two work days per week. Wages shall be paid during such leave of absence.

Where an employer terminates the contract without serving an advance notice within the time limit prescribed in the first paragraph of this Article, he shall pay the worker wages for the advance notice period.

What Can the Employer Do to Me If I Don't Give Notice?

There is no provision in the Labor Standards Law stipulating damages that the employer can collect against employees who quit without notice. Employers could seek relief in civil court if they could demonstrate that the employee's leaving merited significant losses to the business. Such actions are extremely rare due to the substantial legal fees and court costs to employers of bringing such a case to trial, occurring usually in only the highest echelons of the corporate world or where specific trade secrets are in dispute.

My Contract Stipulates That I Must Give 30 Days Notice.

Two parties are free to agree to notification requirements beyond the minimum. Since there are no penalties proscribed in the Labor Standards Act for failing to meet notification requirements, if a teacher left before the 30 days were up the only avenue for a school would be to file a civil suit for breach of contract. Again, such civil cases are complex, and in terms of an individual, non-executive employee are rarely brought to trial because the costs outweigh the damages, when damages are able to be proven. The strongest defense for teachers is to follow the notification terms of whatever they have currently agreed to in writing (via registered letter or other verifiable delivery means) and in further employment contracts to reject any conditions that require longer notification periods than those required by law.

Are There Any Situations That Allow Me To Quit Without Giving Notice?

Yes. Article 14 of the Labor Standards Law provides:

Under any of the following circumstances, a worker may terminate a labor contract without prior notice:
  1. Where an employer misrepresents any fact at the time of his signing of a labor contract in a manner which might mislead his worker and cause him to sustain damage therefrom.
  2. Where an employer, his family member or his agent commits violence or extends gross insults at his worker.
  3. Where the work specified in the contract has the danger of ruining the health of a worker, and the situation has not been ameliorated after an employer has been advised to make improvements.
  4. Where an employer, his agent, or other worker has contracted infectious diseases having the danger of contagion.
  5. Where an employer does not make wage payments according to the terms of the labor contract, or does not give sufficient work to a piece-rate worker.
  6. Where an employer violates the provisions of a labor contract or labor laws and regulations liable to sustain damage to the rights and interests of a worker.

Where a worker desires to terminate a labor contract pursuant to subparagraphs (1) and (6) of the preceding paragraph, he shall do so within 30 days from the date he becomes aware of the particular situation.

Under circumstances specified in subparagraphs (2) and (4) of paragraph one, a worker may not terminate the labor contract when an employer has discharged his agent, or has discharged or sent those with contagious diseases to hospital for medical treatment.

Under this provision, one must act within 30 days of the situation, and, of course, one should have as much documentation of the occurrence as possible. I hope my explanation of the circumstances involved in leaving a job has been helpful.

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